Christensen Oil “Operations” Not in Compliance with Current Utah Fire Code

Complaint: Many of Christensen Oil’s operations conducted there are done in a way that is not in compliance with the current fire code.

Utah has adopted the International Fire Code (IFC) as the state fire code.  The IFC is published by the International Code Council (ICC), and updated every three years.  The ICC also publishes the International Building Code (IBC), International Plumbing Code (IPC) etc.  See ICC Codes here.

The International Fire Code is a 500 page document, adopted as code by most US states

The 2018 IFC is available in digital form here:

Most of the ICC’s codes are about construction.  Not about maintenance or operations.  The Building Code, Plumbing Code, etc. dictate what can be built, and businesses and building owners only need to be concerned about the code when something is being constructed or modified.  For instance, a house built in 1990 had to comply with the applicable codes at the time, but the owner of the house does not need to change anything to meet more stringent codes enacted after the building was built.  Unless, they want to change something, then the new codes apply to the new construction.

Much of the IFC, however is different.  Like the other codes, it has a lot of construction requirements.  But it also has operational requirements, maintenance requirements and administrative requirements.  And these statues apply retroactively to existing operations.

So, unlike the building code, whenever a new IFC edition comes out, business need to be aware of it, and modify certain aspects of their business to comply with the new code.

The “Operations, maintenance and administration” statute is in the “scope” section, found on Page 1 of the 500 page code book, and thus applies to all operational statues in the code.

Page 1 of the Fire Code states that the scope is to apply to existing operations
Operational provision in the Fire Code apply to “Existing conditions and operations”

The ICC Opinion Desk clarifies that “While typical operational and maintenance provisions of the IFC are intended to be retroactive, construction related provisions are not subject to the applicability provisions in Section 102.1.” (ICC email, Feb 26, 2020)

For instance, operations at a bulk petroleum facility include:
* Where trucks are parked overnight
* Where material is stored in warehouses
* Where trucks parked when transferring gasoline
* How close to property lines materials can be stored
* How much combustible liquid can be stored in a given location
* Whether materials with a fire risk can be stored next to each other, or need to be separated.

This is relevant in the case of Christensen Oil.  Many of the operations conducted there are done in a way that is not in compliance with the current fire code.

In the past, Provo Fire Marshal Lynn Schofield would often overlook operations that did not conform to modern fire code.

Recently, our group Maeser Neighbors for Safety, has started making formal complaints about operations that are not in compliance with current fire code, he has begun to enforce some of the apparent violations, while allowing other apparent violations to continue.

We intend to keep making requests that the individual operations at Christensen Oil be brought up to current code.

Ted Buehler
Aug 4, 2020

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